When vitally important decisions are being made, we believe it is incumbent on councillors to proffer statements that are accurate. Everyone is entitled to their opinion of course, but espousing unfounded views and presenting them as ‘facts’ is unacceptable. Even if ignorance is partly to blame for such announcements, it does not absolve councillors from their duty of proper oversight.  Their role is to analyse, question, and provide a rationale that will stand up to full scrutiny. This has not been done – especially at the last council meeting.

Two important items were presented at the last council meeting – the draft Housing Strategy and the Caulfield Station Structure Plan. Both items have the potential to dramatically change residential amenity and the environment in Glen Eira and thus affect every resident.

In regard to the Caulfield Structure Plan the draft proposes one height of 25 storeys, and for the MRC freehold land 12 storeys. All heights are discretionary rather than mandatory which of course means that they could ultimately be higher! No urban design evidence, nor overshadowing impacts were provided for this item. Even in the heritage precinct of Derby Road, the proposal is for a discretionary 8 storey limit. This of course begs the question as to why other heritage commercial zones in Bentleigh, Elsternwick and Carnegie were allocated a mandatory four storey height limit. Are we to assume that some areas are more ‘heritage worthy’ than others?

We take particular issue with some of the comments made by Athanasopolous and Zyngier as outlined below:

ATHANASOPOLOUS:  on the issue of heights in commercial areas this councillor argued that Glen Eira has little chance of achieving mandatory controls in commercially zoned land and certainly not in areas zoned Activity Centre Zone. Conclusion? – that discretionary heights are better than nothing – thus absolving council for even trying! He went on to challenge anyone to come up with ‘evidence’ that this was not the case when he stated that people: Can’t come up with where mandatory controls have been given for 12 storeys in an activity centre structure plan. People can’t even provide that evidence.

ZYNGIER: basically reiterated this line of argument and said that council has no control over commercial zones.

Both statements are factually incorrect! Other councils have been successful in acquiring mandatory height limits for their commercial strips and are nowhere near 25 storeys as proposed in this draft structure plan. Whilst it is true that ultimately the Minister must sign off on such amendments, the primary question should be: WHY HAVE THESE OTHER COUNCILS BEEN SUCCESSFUL? Clearly councils do have ‘control’ over what they propose and what they pursue or are willing to accept. In Glen Eira, we start from the proposition that worse could be imposed so let’s go for 25 storeys as a starter!

We have taken the time and trouble to go through gazetted amendments from other councils which have all had mandatory height controls enacted in their precincts. All of these are well within the 10 year limit that Athanasopolous asked for. They even include some Activity Centre Zones, where none of the heights come close to what Glen Eira is asking for.

Please consider the following table carefully and then reflect on Glen Eira’s approach and the validity of what some councillors espouse.